Owens v. State
Appellate Court of MD - 1992
- Police received a complaint about a suspicious vehicle. A truck matching the description was found parked in a private driveway with the engine running and the lights on.
- D was asleep in the driver's seat with an open can of beer between his legs. There were several empties in the truck.
- The police officer awoke D. D did not know where he was and smelled strongly of alcohol. His speech was slurred. D had an alcohol restriction on his license.
- D was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
- Lower court found D guilty.
- MD Appellate Court affirmed, D guilty.
- Is a conviction based upon circumstantial evidence alone not to be sustained unless the circumstances are inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis of innocence?
- A conviction upon circumstantial evidence alone is not to be sustained unless the circumstances are inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis of innocence.
- There are only two unstrained and likely inferences arising from the circumstances.
- One is that D arrived at the driveway from somewhere else.
- The other is that D was about to leave for somewhere else.
- The first is consistent with his guilt, the second with innocence.
- One does not typically drink in the house and then carry empties to the car.
- The circumstances make the first inference more likely.
- The totality of the circumstances was inconsistent with a reasonable hypothesis of innocence.